Are you facing an overwhelming problem? Throughout life there are times when we need a special experience with God. A deep sense of loneliness, discouragement, depression, emptiness, or purposelessness; some accident, disease, or death; some severe problem, difficulty, obstacle, or loss—many things—can create a desperate need for a special time with God. When a need strikes, our task is to get alone with God just as we will see Joshua do. God will meet us if we will just get alone and seek His face. God will help us and meet our need. He will give us His presence and power and guidance. God will be our helper in time of need.
Joshua was off alone surveying Jericho (Joshua 5:13-14). Obviously, he had walked some distance away from the camp, close enough to Jericho so that he could survey the land surrounding the great city. As with any military commander, he was sensing the strain of the upcoming battle, the pressure and tension, the stress and heaviness of the burden of war. He knew that war involved wounds and spilt blood, maiming and crippling, the loss of limbs and disfigurement, injuries and severe pain. He knew that war involved death and the loss of loved ones, terrible grief and suffering for wives, children, parents, and relatives. Obviously, he was sensing a desperate need to get alone with God, to seek His sustaining grace and strength. He needed a very, very special time alone with the Lord to pray and plan. While praying, note that his head was apparently bowed. When he looked up, he was face-to-face with a man who had a drawn sword.
Look at Joshua 5:13-15 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
As Joshua was lifting his eyes and looking towards Jericho, the next great challenge they would face, he saw a MAN. No ordinary man. This was the “Commander of the Lord’s army,” Joshua heard the same words that Moses heard back in Exodus 3:5 at the burning bush when God told Moses to remove his shoes for he was standing on holy ground.
In this situation, Joshua was looking upon the very face of Jesus Christ. This was, as theologians describe, a Christophany. This was an encounter with Christ to give His people the encouragement they need to carry on.
Jesus was the Burning Bush that was not consumed in Exodus 3:14, describing himself as the “I am” and Moses went from being a hired hand in hiding to the liberator of God’s people. Jesus confirms that He is the same “I am” in John 8:58
Jesus appeared to Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20 as a high priest named Melchizedek bringing bread and wine, a future symbol his body and blood. He blessed him in his victory and pointed him to a new level of worship as Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. Hebrews 7 confirms that this is Jesus.
Here in Joshua 5, he is described as “the commander of the Lord’s armies.” The same description of Jesus found in Revelation 19, who is riding a white horse leading the armies of heaven.
Before this encounter Joshua must have been asking the question, What am I going to do now? I’m looking at this place called Jericho. This obstacle seems so big. How are we going to overcome it? And so, God in all His wisdom, decides that Joshua needs another pep talk. Joshua needed to know and experience the presence of Christ.
He wants to give us that encouragement that we need to carry on. He knows we’re asking questions of ourselves. Questions like How? Why? What Do I Do Now? He knows exactly what we’re going through, and He doesn’t want us to go through it alone.
God appeared to Joshua here to give him encouragement, to give him direction, to help him see how and why to carry on. God gave Joshua the comfort of knowing that God would deliver Jericho into their hands. That He would deliver them through the days ahead. And, God wants to do the same for us.
Joshua was standing in the presence of Christ. This was an opportunity to see what God had in store.
Jesus promises to “be with us always.” There are times when we need to sense His presence more. He may not show up in a burning bush or in the middle of the road talking to us as he did for Moses and Joshua. We probably won’t see an angelic, glorified Man standing before us. But we can have sense of His presence all the same.
The kind of encounter that Jesus has for us is just as personal, just as powerful, just as meaningful as Moses and Joshua had. In college when Christ was calling me to ministry there we several times when I sensed the presence of Jesus in a strong way making it clear that I was supposed to go in that direction. Life changing decisions like whether to marry Niki, to become a pastor, to plant the church to add additional staff, additional locations, and taking new directions as a church all required that I surrender, seek Christ, fast, pray and seek and desire the presence of Jesus.
Christ desires for us to have a seek and know the presence of Jesus that can continue throughout the rest of our lives. God had a great plan in store for Joshua. He knew that Jericho would be conquered. He knew what the end result would be, and He needed Joshua to follow through. To encounter God, to experience His power, His encouragement, His presence. And then, Joshua would be ready for the task ahead.
In our lives, in our challenges, in our problems, we can be sure that God has a great plan in store for us. God knows what lies ahead for us. He knows the victories that we will experience. He knows what we will be able to accomplish in His power and in His presence.
We all stand in the face of these adversities and ask ourselves, “Why is this happening?” How will I get through this obstacle?” God wants to begin to provide for us in a new way, a way that we’re not used to, a way that we couldn’t have imagined. A way that will meet every challenge, that will meet our every need.
He wants us to see Him in all of his glory and know that He will lead us, He will guide us. He will direct our steps. He wants us to see that God is not finished with us. He has great things in store for us, great victories in store, great days ahead.
We can have a fresh encounter with Jesus. He wants us to be moved by His presence and power. To take hold of His hand and allow Him to deliver us through any challenge we face.
If you are in a situation where you’re asking why? If you’re facing one of those life-changing trials, one of those valley experiences that knock every bit of the air out of you then you are ready. Overwhelming problems help us be ready to pray and seek the face of Christ. Large obstacles help us be ready to obey what Jesus says.
In our next post we will see how to have courage to follow God’s instructions even when they do not make sense.
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